Getting Oriented Early On

2018 students playing a game of 'rock, scissors, paper'. It’s only early August, but many of our incoming freshmen have already embarked on their college careers at Nichols. Their head start has come courtesy of our annual orientation for more than 300 new students and their family members, who attended one of four daylong sessions in June and July.

The daylong sequence of topics and presenters ranged from “Transitioning to College” and “Campus Life & Expectations” to “Supporting Student Success.” What made this orientation a success were the joint efforts of our directors of student involvement, advising services, and housing; representatives from student financial services; and our dean of students.
group photo of orientation leaders
But the entire day depended as much on the efforts of almost two dozen Nichols students, who served as Student Orientation Leaders. During the day, these successful Nichols students worked with small groups of the attendees—showing them around, answering their questions, and putting them at ease about their upcoming leap into college life.

I think it’s amazing that all of these student leaders took a break from their other summer commitments to be part of orientation. And this year’s cohort even included two students who had graduated in May.

I think many of them remember back to when they were making the adjustment to Nichols and college life and how important it is to get off to a positive start and to begin to develop relationships.

When the members of the Class of 2019 arrive on campus for keeps at the end of August, they will encounter both challenges and opportunities. Besides having to find their way around, they’ll face the prospect of living here as responsible and independent young adults.

They will also have to hit the ground running at an institution where 40 percent of the graduates go on to head companies or start their own. And, uniquely to Nichols, all freshmen will learn and practice leadership from the get-go—through the required first-year course Lead 101.

It’s an exciting time to be at Nichols, and those who attended orientation have had a glimpse of what’s to come.

Graduation for the BISONtennial Class of 2015

The Class of 2015, making their way across campus to the Commencment tents led by bagpipe player.This year’s graduation was especially poignant for me because I started with the class of 2015 when I came to Nichols. Also, this is our bicentennial class which will hold a very special page in the history of Nichols College.

When I spoke at graduation, I shared what a privilege it was for the faculty, staff and administration to have had the opportunity to mentor them, to challenge them, and to help them succeed. “We know you leave us at your best…for now. But, the best is yet to come for you.”

Legal Sea Foods owner Roger Berkowitz was our commencement speaker and he shared three pieces of advice with our graduates – 1) your education is not over with your graduation; 2) if you’re in a management position always take time to ask questions of your hourly associates – those closest to your customers; and 3) know that your future survival and success will rely on your ability to acknowledge and harness disruptive forces and opportunities surrounding you.

Our student speakers offered some valuable advice as well. I especially like the Dr. Seuss quote that valedictorian Samantha MacMillan shared, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” She continued by sharing, “None of us are the same people that we walked in here as. And I truly believe I speak for my class when I say that part of the Nichols experience is discovering our strengths and walking away as more confident individuals.” Andrew Haas, President of the Class of 2015, reminded the graduates that they arrived on campus during the same time as Hurricane Irene. Fortunately, this did not affect the students’ experience for long. As Andrew stated, “the students’ time on campus went by quickly with four years full of moments and friendships that will extend even further in time.”

Nelson Henderson said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Now go plant some trees – and return on occasion to sit under the trees planted for you on the Hill. Remember, no matter how far you roam, our Bison will always be welcomed home on the Hill.

Congratulations Class of 2015!

Naples Alumni Reception Reaches New High


On February 11, it was my pleasure to join more than 50 alumni and guests in Naples, Florida for the Naples Bicentennial Celebration. This reception was unique because it had the highest number of attendees since I’ve been at the College.  I enjoyed having the opportunity to meet alumni whose graduation dates spanned six decades, legacy families of three generations, and parents of prospective students.

State of the College address

On Tuesday, February 17, 2015, I met with faculty and staff at our annual meeting to update them on the state of the college and the progress we are making towards our mission of becoming a college of choice for business and leadership education

It’s an exciting time to be at the College. With the new academic building, renovation of our athletic facilities, our record enrollment, and positive retention results, the College is moving forward even in the midst of the six feet of snow we have received so far this winter!

Our planned improvements also extend to enhancing our students’ curricular and co-curricular experiences. Faculty and staff have been working hard to develop and enhance our programs which will inspire and engage students. Some of the ideas that are being developed include requiring experiential learning participation for all students; providing team-teaching and linked course opportunities; and offering one-credit courses in a variety of formats, schedules, locations, and topics.

Another exciting development is our new Emerging Leaders Program. This program kicked off during the fall 2015 with the first-year leadership-based course, LEAD101 Learning to Lead. For students seeking to learn more about leadership through experiential learning opportunities, this co-curricular program will build skills and confidence by engaging students in workshops, Fischer Institute events, internships and community service. First-year students self-select to participate, and we are pleased to report that 28 students have opted into the program, a sign that this program resonates with current students and will appeal to prospective students as well. Students who complete the program will receive a leadership designation upon graduation.

We have much to look forward to this coming year, and I am confident that with the dedication of our hard-working staff and faculty, we are well on our way to becoming the college of choice for business and leadership education.

President for a Day Contest

Recently, I announced an opportunity for students to take my place as College President for a day. I am always looking for ways to connect with students, and this seemed like a fun way to do that.

As part of this day, the selected full-time undergraduate student will learn what it is like to be “President” by attending my meetings and taking part in some of my other obligations and duties. I will break out my backpack to trade places with that student, attend the student’s classes, and fulfill other on-campus commitments. Through this contest, I hope we can achieve a better understanding in both directions: for students to better understand the myriad of opportunities and challenges I face, and for me to be able to walk in a student’s shoes and better understand the opportunities and challenges of today’s college students.

The benefits do not end there. The winner will also enjoy a catered lunch in the President’s Conference Room with five of his or her peers and breakfast with me to discuss the student’s top three priorities for the student body.

In order to be considered, students must submit an application, their resume, and a 500-word written or video essay on the topic “What would be your top three priorities that would directly impact students if you were appointed President of Nichols College?”

One student contacted me to say that he thought it was a great idea and very brave of me to make this offer. Of course, as a rugby player, he wondered if he won the contest, whether I would be joining the team in practice. I replied that I would, but only if I was in an inflatable sumo wrestler suit!

Granted, it has been many decades since I’ve been an undergraduate student, but I am looking forward to this opportunity and what I hope will become a yearly event!